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Is the UK’s Iraq Inquiry Set to “savage” Tony Blair?

Part 1 of a 2 Part Series

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | May 24, 2016

In spite of all the scepticism regarding the long delayed UK Iraq Inquiry into the illegal invasion of Iraq, with predictions (including by myself) that it would be a “whitewash” of the enormity of the lies which led to the near destruction of Iraq, to the presence of ISIS and to probably over a million deaths, The Sunday Times (May 22nd, 2016) is predicting an “absolutely brutal” verdict on those involved. The paper claims that former Prime Minister Tony Blair, his then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Sir Richard Dearlove, former Head of British Secret Intelligence (MI6) are among those who face “serious damage to their reputations.”

Not before time, many will surely be thinking.

The Inquiry, which sat from November 24th, 2009 until February 2nd, 2011, is finally to be published on July 6th, approaching five and a half years since its conclusion. Speculation is that publication of the findings are being further delayed until after the June 23rd British referendum on whether to remain in the European Union. Tony Blair is campaigning on his pal Prime Minister David Cameron’s “remain in” ticket. Confirmation of his murderous misleadings before the referendum would further discredit all he had to say and seriously damage, if not detonate, the “in” campaign.

Anyone reading The Sunday Times piece might well take the view that with or without the published Report, Blair speaking on either side would be tantamount to inviting total destruction of the cause. For instance: ‘A senior source who has discussed the Report with two of its authors has revealed that Blair “won’t be let off the hook” over claims that he offered British military support to … George W Bush a year before the 2003 invasion.’

Jack Straw as Blair’s Foreign Secretary at the time, and senior Generals, are also said to be subject of “some of the harshest criticism” for the UK’s “disastrous stewardship” of the southern port city of Basra and much of the south, post-invasion. “The Report will say that we really did make a mess of the aftermath.”

Those sent in by Blair’s Foreign Office under Straw were “inexperienced”, did not “quite know what they were doing” and: “All the things the British had been saying about how much better we were at dealing with post-conflict resolution than the American came very badly unstuck.” In fact, misjudgement was such that they “had to be rescued by the Americans.”

The Report, according to a knowledgeable former Minister, will be “Absolutely brutal for Straw … it will damage the reputation … of Richard Dearlove and Tony Blair” amongst others.

General Mike Jackson, former head of the army, named ”Darth Vader” by his men, who vowed to leave Iraq better than he found it, and General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff and senior officer in Iraq, 2005-2006, are also believed to be in the firing line, with Houghton said to have consulted his lawyers. Houghton’s objections to criticisms of his roles are alleged to have contributed to delays in the Inquiry’s publication.

Houghton became Chief of Joint Operations in 2006. In 2008  “ … the Iraqi military requested US rather than British assistance to retake Iraq’s second city of Basra from the militia, three months after UK forces had withdrawn from the city.” On September 3rd, 2007 the 550 British forces, hunkered down in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces, had fled the city to the relative safety of Basra airport some miles away.

In recent years, Sir Nicholas has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for the UK bombing Syria.

The Sunday Times also cites the Report’s criticism of the “gloss” with which Blair’s officials adorned “intelligence” regarding Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and (Blair’s) claim that they could be unleashed “in forty five minutes.” Sir Richard Dearlove and others senior in MI6 “will be criticized for failing to prevent” such fairy stories.

The newspaper’s source also said there will be questions raised: “about the (US-UK) ‘special relationship’ (since) diplomats in Washington, including the then Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, were ‘not plugged in’ and were ‘bounced along behind the Americans…”

At home, the “Cabinet did not have ‘the full picture’ of what was going on before the invasion (due to) Blair’s informal ‘sofa style’ of government.”

Further, incredibly: “officials were not present to take notes when Blair’s inner circle were making key decision”, leading to predicted criticism of former Cabinet Secretary Lord Turnbull and senior Civil Servants.

Former International Development Secretary, Clare Short, has “told friends she will be attacked.” Ms Short, of course, stated that she had stayed on in her job as she wanted her Department to be involved in rebuilding Iraq after the invasion. No thought of resigning earlier, rather than at the last minute in protest at the whole shameful Blair-Bush intended “supreme international crime”, that of a war of aggression.

The Chairman of the Inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, is said to be personally exercised by the ‘failures of “proper constitutional government.” Indeed.

Whilst Blair and Straw declined to comment to The Sunday Times, “Allies of Blair say it is significant that he has not apologized for lying to the public, because they believe Chilcot will not find that he did.”

Given the mountains of evidence and hard facts already in the public domain, they must surely be the only people on the planet to hold such a view.

As for Chilcot, we await the July 6th with the palest glimmer of hope that at last some justice might be seen to be done and that Blair and all responsible for the ongoing Hiroshima level tragedy that is the whole of battered, bereaved, bleeding, irradiated Iraq might find that there is finally at least the beginning of the basis for legal redress.

As this is finished, it transpires Tony Blair has been speaking today at an event in central London organized by the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics. “He made it clear he would be unapologetic for his role in taking Britain to war in 2003”, reports the BBC. As General Kimmitt stated, of the dead for whom Blair bears such integral responsibility: “They are only Iraqis.”

Charles Anthony Lynton Blair is beyond all shame. However, no matter how widely the guilt is spread, he was Captain of the No 10 Downing Street ship, author of key lies integral to the gargantuan crime and tragedy and thus should shoulder commensurate blame.


Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger’s Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.)

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

US ‘leverage in Syria’ thanks to collusion with terrorists

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By Finian Cunningham | RT | May 20, 2016

There is a simple explanation why Washington refuses to proscribe the militant groups Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham as terrorist. Because Washington relies on them for regime change in Syria.

Therefore, Washington and its Western and Middle East allies cannot possibly designate Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham as terrorist; otherwise it would be a self-indicting admission that the war in Syria is a foreign state-sponsored terrorist assault on a sovereign country.

This criminal conspiracy is understood by many observers as an accurate description of the five-year Syrian conflict and how it originated. Syria fits into the mold of US-led regime change wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. However, Washington and its allies, assisted by the Western corporate news media, have maintained a fictitious alternative narrative on Syria, claiming the war is an insurgency by a pro-democracy rebel movement.

That narrative has strained credulity over the years as the putative “secular rebels” have either vanished or turned out to be indistinguishable from extremist groups like al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and so-called Islamic State (also known as Daesh).

Washington asserts that it only supports “moderate, secular rebels” of the Free Syrian Army. British Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed that there are 70,000 such “moderate rebels” fighting in Syria against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. But no-one can locate these supposed pro-democracy warriors.

All that can be seen is that the fight against the Syrian government is being waged by self-professed extremist jihadists who have no intention of establishing “democracy”. Instead, they explicitly want to carve out an Islamic state dominated by draconian Sharia law.

In addition to Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh, the two other major militant groups, Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, are vehemently committed to forming a Caliphate based on Salafi or Wahhabi ideology. That ideology views all other religious faiths, including moderate Sunni Muslims, as well as Shia and Alawites, as “infidels” fit to be persecuted until death.

Leaders of both Jaysh and Ahrar have publicly declared their repudiation of democracy.

Yet these two groups are nominated as the Syrian “opposition” in the Geneva talks, as part of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC). The HNC was cobbled together at a summit held in the Saudi capital Riyadh in December ahead of the anticipated negotiations to find a Syrian political settlement.

The HNC is endorsed by Washington as official representatives of the Syrian opposition. It is supported by Saudi Arabia, or indeed more accurately, orchestrated by the Saudi rulers since the main components of the HNC are Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham. Other major sponsors of the militant groups are Qatar and Turkey.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, also plays an important part in the charade of furnishing an opposition composed of extremists who demand the Syrian government must stand down as a precondition for talks. This maximalist position is one of the main reasons why the negotiations have come unstuck, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Another basic reason is that the HNC members have been involved in breaching the cessation of violence the US and Russia brokered on February 27, as a confidence-building measure to assist the talks process in Geneva.

That Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham have not observed the shaky ceasefire is a corollary of the fact that both groups are integrated with al-Qaeda-affiliated terror organizations, al Nusra and Daesh, which are internationally designated terrorist organizations.

The UN excluded al-Qaeda franchises from the ceasefire when it passed Security Council Resolution 2254 in December to mandate the purported Syrian peace talks. In that way, Syria and its foreign allies, Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have been legally entitled to continue offensive operations against the extremists in parallel to the Geneva process.

The offensive on the terror groups should include HNC members Jaysh and Ahrar. Both groups have publicly admitted to fighting alongside both Nusra and Daesh in their campaign against the Syrian army. All of these organizations have been involved at various times in bloody feuds and turf wars. Nevertheless, they are at other times self-declared collaborators.

Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham are also well-documented to having engaged in massacres and barbarities as vile as the other higher profile terror outfits.

Only last week, Ahrar al-Sham was responsible for the massacre of women and children in the village of Al-Zahraa, near Aleppo, according to survivors. The group has carried out countless no-warning car bombings in civilians neighborhoods. It claimed responsibility for a bombing outside the Russian base at Idlib earlier this year, which killed dozens.

Jaysh al-Islam has publicly admitted using chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians in recent weeks, also near Aleppo, Syria’s second city after the capital Damascus, and currently the key battleground in the whole conflict.

The same jihadist militia is allegedly linked to the chemical weapon atrocity in August 2013 in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, when hundreds of civilians, including children, were apparently killed from exposure to Sarin gas. That attack was initially blamed on Syrian government forces and it nearly prompted the Obama administration to order direct military intervention on the pretext that a “red line” was crossed. Until that is, Moscow steered a ground-breaking deal to decommission chemical weapons held by the Syrian state. It later transpired that the more likely culprit for the East Ghouta atrocity was the Jaysh al-Islam militants.

A former commander of the group, Zahran Alloush, once declared that he would “cleanse” all Shia, Alawites and other infidels from the Levant. Many Syrian civilians later rejoiced when the “terrorist boss” – their words – was killed in a Syrian air force strike on December 25. Notably, Saudi Arabia and Turkey vehemently protested over Alloush’s death.

It is irrefutable from both their actions and self-declarations that Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham are by any definition terrorist groups. Certainly, Russia and Iran have officially listed both as such.

But not so Washington and its allies. Earlier this month, a Russian proposal at the UN Security Council to proscribe Jaysh and Ahrar was blocked by the US, Britain and France. An American spokesperson told the AFP news agency that it rejected the Russian motion because it feared the tentative Syrian ceasefire would collapse entirely. This is an unwitting US admission about who the main fighting forces in the Syrian “rebellion” are.

This week US Secretary of State John Kerry made an extraordinary claim which, as usual, went unnoticed in the Western media. Kerry said the US “still has leverage in Syria” because if the Syrian government does not accept Washington’s demands for political transition then the country would face years of more war.

Kerry’s confidence in threatening a war of attrition on Syria is based on the fact that the main terror groups are directly or indirectly controlled by Washington and its regional allies in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham are essential to the terror front that gives Washington its leverage in Syria. But the charade must be kept covered with the preposterous denial that these groups are not terrorists.

May 21, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three civilians killed in new Saudi strikes in Yemen

Press TV – May 21, 2016

At least three Yemeni civilians have lost their lives and several others sustained injuries in new Saudi airstrikes against Yemen.

Saudi jets attacked two trucks loaded with bags of cement in the Hardin neighborhood of the southern Yemen port city of Mokha, situated 346 kilometers (214 miles) south of the capital, Sana’a, on Friday evening, killing three people and injuring five others, Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network reported.

Local sources said the trucks had made a stopover in the area where they were targeted on their way to the city of Ta’izz.

Eyewitnesses said charred body parts were strewn about the area, noting that the death toll would further increase as some of the injured are in a critical condition.

Saudi fighter jets also flew over several areas in the provinces of Ta’izz, Ma’rib and Amran, but there were no immediate reports of attacks.

Separately, a woman lost her life when Saudi warplanes conducted an airstrike in Sahar district of the northwestern Yemeni province of Sa’ada on Friday.

Another Saudi aerial raid against Qa’atabah district in Yemen’s southern province of Dhale left a woman injured.

Moreover, militiamen loyal to former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi lobbed a barrage of mortar shells against a position of Ansarullah fighters in al-Wazi’iyah district of Ta’izz Province on Friday, but no casualties were reported.

Elsewhere in al-Mansura district of the southern province of Aden, unidentified armed men fatally shot a pro-Hadi commander.

Moreover, there are reports that clashes have broken out between Hadi loyalists and Takfiri terrorists in the port city of Aden, with both sides exchanging heavy gunfire.

Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, 2015, in a bid to bring former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi —a staunch ally of Riyadh who resigned from the presidency — back to power and undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggression.

The Saudi strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

Last week, UN-brokered peace talks between delegates from Ansarullah movement and the Saudi-backed former Yemeni government in Kuwait were suspended after the latter declared its withdrawal from the talks.

Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, a representative of the pro-Hadi delegation, blamed Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and allies of torpedoing the talks, saying they have backtracked on their commitments.

The development came as UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed had said he was optimistic about achieving a settlement for the conflict in Yemen.

May 21, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

CrossTalk: Universal Justice?

RT | May 20, 2016

The American legal system is rapidly transforming itself with the expressed purpose of replacing much of international law. Be it within the realm of trade and banking, criminal prosecutions and even sports. The Americanization of law supplants the United Nations and the sovereignty of every state on the planet.
CrossTalking with Joe Lauria, Daoud Khairallah, and Toby Cadman.

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Video, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

‘Clinton as president is danger to world peace’ – French National Front party leader

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Photo credit – Gage Skidmore on Flickr
RT | May 20, 2016

Hillary Clinton winning the White House would constitute “a danger for the world peace,” as she would continue to drag Europe into her “destructive policy” of conflicts, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front party, told RT.

While declining to endorse any of the US presidential front-runners, Le Pen said she believes there is one that would definitely not benefit France.

“There is a candidate who appears a lot more dangerous for France than the others – that’s Hillary Clinton,” the head of the National Front told RT France in an exclusive interview. “I’m not American so I don’t need to make a choice. But… in the interests of France, Hillary Clinton is probably the worst choice out there.”

Le Pen sees the Democratic frontrunner as being so “dangerous” because of Clinton’s career as US Secretary of State, in which she worked “hand in hand with the full spectrum of American decisions” that eventually “plunged the world objectively into chaos.”

“I think if she was elected she would continue this policy, a destructive policy, a policy of conflict, a policy of imprisonment of Europe in blinded Atlanticism,” Le Pen said. “I think it’s a danger for world peace.”

In December, Le Pen, who herself hopes to win France’s 2017 presidential elections, criticized Republican frontrunner Donald Trump for proposing to ban almost all Muslims from entering the United States.

“Seriously, have you ever heard me say something like that?” Le Pen said in one of her interviews, presumably in response to being compared with Trump. “I defend all the French people in France, regardless of their origin, regardless of their religion.”

The US media has repeatedly drawn comparisons between Marine Le Pen and Trump. The New York Times called the real estate mogul turned GOP frontrunner “America’s Marine Le Pen”. Bloomberg has also referred to Le Pen as “Europe’s own Donald Trump.”

While Marine Le Pen hasn’t explicitly named a “preferable” candidate for US president, her father has.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, retired long-time leader and founder of the French National Front, made headlines in February by endorsing Trump in a tweet, in which he said that if he was an American, he “would vote Donald Trump.”

Read more:

‘Hillary Clinton is the most dangerous presidential hopeful from a war standpoint’

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , | 4 Comments

Japan protests to US over Okinawa woman’s death

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Rina Shimabukuro
Press TV – May 19, 2016

Japan has submitted an official letter of protest to the US diplomatic mission in Tokyo over the brutal murder of an Okinawan woman, which is suspected to have been carried out by an American.

On Thursday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida summoned US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to the Foreign Ministry and handed over the letter after the police arrested the 32-year-old suspect.

The body of Rina Shimabukuro, who had been missing since late April, was recently found in a weed-covered area in southern Okinawa. Police have found DNA matching the dead woman’s in a car belonging to Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a former US Marine, who lives in southern Okinawa and works at the US Air Force’s Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture.

The police, accordingly, suspect the man of having murdered the victim and disposed of her body.

“It is extremely regrettable that the very cruel and atrocious case occurred,” Kishida told Kennedy, according to Nippon Television Network.

Okinawa has become known as the site of enduring tensions with the US forces deployed there, and hence a lasting source of conflict between Washington and Tokyo. Pacifist inclinations as well as security and safety concerns have prompted the Japanese to protest against the deployment.

Multiple cases of misconduct by US forces have raised anti-American feelings among the islanders.

Back in 2013, two American sailors admitted to raping a woman in Okinawa a year earlier in a case that sparked huge anti-US sentiments in Japan.

In 1995, the gang rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by US servicemen also sparked mass protests.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 4 Comments

‘Obama’s US exceptionalism statements rival Hitler quotes’ – top Russian judge

RT | May 19, 2016

The chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court has said that Barack Obama’s statements about American exceptionalism were very similar to propaganda used by Nazi Germany and equally dangerous to world peace.

“The idea of specialness, exceptionality and unique rights of the American state and American people has been used in US internal political rhetoric for quite a while, but in the recent years it is being actively and persistently offered in US foreign policy documents and public speeches on international politics delivered by US officials,” Judge Valery Zorkin said at the St Petersburg international legal forum on Thursday.

“Any unbiased and educated person would see that this statement by Obama is an almost exact copy of leading politicians and propaganda specialists of the Third Reich, including Adolph Hitler… In essence, Obama is using the exact same thing that Nazi bosses said about the German exceptionalism when they started the world war,” he added.

The judge also said that in his view the exceptionalism concept had direct influence on the modern US concepts of military planning and these concepts see the main objective of all activities as reaching such degree of military might that the United States remains out of reach of other nations, on land, sea, in air and in space.

According to Zorkin, the same applies to the US doctrines on development of mass media and electronic communications – the US authorities see their goal as establishing absolute global domination of their country in the global information space. This idea also constantly appears in Obama’s public speeches.

“Obama says that Americans and the USA are an exceptional people and an exceptional state and thus they can pretend for much more than any other people or state. In other words, he follows the plot of James Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ dystopia and, while formally not rejecting the principle of equality of sovereign states and peoples, fixed by the UN Charter, he still declares that Americans and America are ‘more equal’ than any other country and the rest of the planet’s population,” RIA Novosti quoted the judge as saying.

Zorkin also told his colleague at the forum that he considered such approach to be a blatant violation of international legal norms.

Russian politicians and officials have repeatedly addressed the topic of American exceptionalism when talking on bilateral relations with the US and of international politics in general. In particular, in mid-2015 President Vladimir Putin said in his speech before the UN General Assembly that attempts to influence internal politics of sovereign nations should not be tolerated regardless of where they are taking place and who are making such attempts.

“It seems that some nations are not learning from others’ mistakes, but keep repeating them. The export of so-called ‘democratic’ revolutions continues.” Putin said.

“I cannot help asking those who have caused this situation, ‘Do you realize now what you have done?’” he said. “But I am afraid the question will hang in the air, because policies based on self-confidence and belief in one’s exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned.”

READ MORE:

‘American exceptionalism’ hampers its war on terror – Lavrov

Violence instead of democracy: Putin slams ‘policies of exceptionalism and impunity’ in UN speech

May 19, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

In Kerry’s Footsteps: What Saudi ‘Plan B’ Actually Means for Syria and Iran

Sputnik – May 18, 2016

Saudi Arabia has signaled it is ready to implement the much-talked-about ‘Plan B’ in Syria. What does Riyadh actually mean?

Following the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Vienna Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister told journalists that it is time to shift the focus to the so-called ‘Plan B’ in Syria.

“We believe we should have moved to a ‘Plan B’ a long time ago,” Adel al-Jubeir told reporters, as quoted by Reuters.

“The choice about moving to an alternative plan, the choice about intensifying the military support (to the opposition) is entirely with the Bashar [Bashar al-Assad] regime. If they do not respond to the treaties of the international community… then we will have to see what else can be done,” he stressed.

What lies behind al-Jubeir’s statement?Saudi Arabia has long been calling for toppling the legitimate and democratically-elected Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. It is no secret that the Gulf kingdom has poured millions of US dollars into anti-Assad Islamist radical groups.

The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC) includes such Syrian “opposition groups” as Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islam groups which differ from Daesh and the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front in name only.

In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov underscored that Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islam shared the same ideology as Daesh, which is outlawed in Russia, the United States and many other countries.

However, the West still hesitates to recognize the brutal extremist groups as terrorists.

The possibility of Plan B’s implementation was voiced by US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately after the US and Russia announced an agreement on cessation of hostilities in Syria.

“There is a significant discussion taking place now about a Plan B in the event that we do not succeed at the [negotiating] table,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 23, 2016.

The plan envisages the partition of Syria and empowering the country’s “moderate opposition.” It should be noted that Washington is well aware that the so-called moderates have no scruples about intermingling with al-Nusra Front terrorists from time to time.As for Riyadh, it has repeatedly pledged its willingness to deploy Saudi boots on Syrian ground. In the eyes of Saudi Arabia, ‘Plan B’ will allow Riyadh to ultimately get rid of Bashar al-Assad, paving the way for undermining the Middle Eastern Shiite Crescent and “encircling” of Iran.

Actually, the roots of the US-Saudi ‘Plan B’ originated in the times of George W. Bush. After Iraq had been occupied by the US, Saudi Arabia urged Washington to shift its attention toward Iran and Syria, parts of the so-called Shiite Crescent in the Middle East.

“In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January [2007], Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is ‘a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,’ separating ‘reformers’ and ‘extremists’; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were ‘on the other side of that divide.’ (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, ‘have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize’,” Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his 2007 article “The Redirection” for The New Yorker.

According to Kerry and al-Jubeir, Plan B would be implemented should the ceasefire in Syria collapse. As of yet the truce is holding despite numerous violations.

The recent 17-nation ISSG talks were devoted to discussing the stalled negotiations, suspended after the Saudi-backed opposition faction, the HNC, unilaterally withdrew from negotiations, demanding serious concessions from the Syrian government.

It seems that neither HNC, the Riyadh-sponsored “opposition” group, nor its Saudi masters are interested in further diplomatic efforts.

Read more: Kerry’s Ultimatum to Assad: Why US Plan Means ‘Capitulation to Al-Qaeda’

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Saudi Arabia providing banned chemical munitions to Nusra Front’

Press TV – May 19, 2016

A senior European official says Saudi Arabia is providing members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front with internationally-banned chemical weapons.

Secretary General of the European Department for Security and Information (DESI) Haitham Abu Said the terrorists regularly use the munitions in their attacks against Syrian civilians.

Abu Said said Wednesday that the ammunition are being supplied to the extremists monthly under a plan drawn up in Bulgaria, and sneaked into Syria through militant-held areas on the border with Jordan.

Abu Said further noted that Nusra Front terrorists have on a number of occasions used weapons containing chemical agents against Syrians, most recently in the strategic northwestern province of Aleppo.

He added that international organizations have recorded several such incidents in the past.

The remarks come as the Russian Defense Ministry said that several trucks, carrying improvised chemical weapons, have been transported to Aleppo from neighboring Idlib.

“The arms are said to contain chlorine-based toxins,” the ministry said in a statement.

On May 3, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Uzumcu said that the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group might have already used chemical weapons both in Iraq and Syria.

Uzumcu said fact-finding teams from The Hague-based watchdog had discovered evidence that suggest the use of sulfur mustard in attacks in the two crisis-hit Arab countries.

“Although they could not attribute this to Daesh… there are strong suspicions that they may have used” chemical weapons, Uzumcu said.

On April 7, 23 people were killed and over 100 others injured in a chemical attack by Daesh terrorists against members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the city of Aleppo.

Videos posted online purportedly show yellow gas rising over Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood in Aleppo, some 355 kilometers (220 miles) north of Damascus.

The development came only three days after al-Ikhbariyah Syria satellite television network reported that Daesh had fired a barrage of rockets, carrying mustard gas, at a Syrian military airport in the eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr.

According to a report by the Syrian-American Medical Society, Daesh has carried out more than 160 attacks involving “poisonous or asphyxiating agents, such as sarin, chlorine, and mustard gas” since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

At least 1,491 people have been killed in the chemical attacks.

In August 2013, hundreds of people were also killed in a chemical attack in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus. According to reports, the rockets used in the assault were handmade and contained sarin.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Crosstalk: Syria Lessons

RT | May 18, 2016

The Obama administration again says it supports the peace process to end the Syrian proxy war. However, there is still the demand for a political transition defined by Washington. And this demand is backed up by threats. Has this conflict entered a new stage for Syria and the region?
CrossTalking with Mohammad Marandi, Richard Weitz, and Kevork Almassian.

May 18, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Illegal Occupation, Video, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Tony Blair lied on Iraq and will be exposed by Chilcot report’ – Corbyn

RT | May 18, 2016

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s lies about weapons of mass destruction and his secret war pact with former US President George W Bush will be exposed by the Chilcot Inquiry, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Sir John Chilcot is due to finally release his long-delayed report on the legality of the 2003 Iraq invasion on July 6, seven years after the inquiry was commissioned.

Corbyn made the remarks on Tuesday in a speech at the London School of Economics to honour the late Ralph Miliband, a Marxist scholar and father of Corbyn’s predecessor, Ed Miliband.

While Corbyn supported some of the domestic achievements of Blair’s “New Labour,” he argued it had stuck too closely to its neoliberal, Thatcherite ideological roots.

Addressing Blair’s Iraq legacy, Corbyn warned: “The Chilcot report will come out in a few weeks’ time and tell us what we need to know, what I think we already know: There were no weapons of mass destruction, there was no ability to attack within 45 minutes and a deal had been done with Bush in advance.”

Corbyn took a leading role in opposing the 2003 invasion both inside and outside parliament.

Asked if Blair should be tried for war crimes, Corbyn said: “If he’s committed a war crime, yes. Everyone who’s committed a war crime should be.

“I think it was an illegal war, I’m confident about that, indeed [former UN Secretary General] Kofi Annan confirmed it was an illegal war, and therefore [Blair] has to explain to that.”

“Is he going to be tried for it, I don’t know. Could he be tried for it? Possibly,” Corbyn added.

Some MPs are trying to revive a campaign to have Blair prosecuted for his part in the war, either at an international tribunal or by a special parliamentary impeachment process.

Although rare, parliament can impeach a current or former official. It would involve a member of the Commons presenting evidence in the manner of a parliamentary motion, and if carried, it would then move to the House of Lords. If it was also passed by the Lords, the impeachment process would resemble a conventional trial.

The last time parliament attempted to impeach anyone, however, was in 1806, according to the BBC.

Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Alex Salmond said Monday that, rather than parliamentary impeachment, he favored Blair being brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

However, the ICC has said it is not yet able to exercise jurisdiction over international “crimes of aggression” – the offense often connected with Blair’s role in Iraq.

The ICC will rule on whether to extend its powers to try suspects of aggression on January 1, 2017.

May 18, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Agenda in Syria Is War, Not Peace

By Stephen Lendman | May 18, 2016

Syria is Obama’s war, complicit with Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. It objective remains regime change, wanting Syrian sovereign independence destroyed, the nation transformed into another US vassal state.

John Kerry and other US policymakers maintain the pretense of wanting things resolved diplomatically – preventing it by undermining three rounds of Geneva talks since 2012.

Conflict resolution is as simple as America and its rogue allies ending support for ISIS and other terrorist groups. They can’t exist without it.

Instead, escalated support looks likely, Washington’s strategy of choice. Following Tuesday’s Russia/US co-chaired International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Vienna, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said Assad has “two choices.”

“(E)ither he will be removed through the political process or… by force. We believe” the latter choice should have been implemented “a long time ago.”

He suggested escalated conflict ahead. Rogue Western and regional officials demanding Assad must go runs counter to fundamental international law.

Syrians alone may decide who’ll lead them. Assad remains overwhelmingly popular for good reason. He’s holding Syria together during its most troubled time in memory.

John Kerry left no doubt where Washington stands, insisting on illegitimate political transition. The vast majority of Syrians reject it.

Saying “(n)o one can be remotely satisfied with the situation in Syria’s” ignores the Obama administration’s full responsibility for over five years of US naked aggression against a nonbelligerent sovereign state.

Tuesday’s meeting like numerous earlier ones accomplished nothing. Endless war rages. Ceasefire is pure fantasy. Peace talks collapsed with no agreed date on another round.

Peaceful conflict resolution remains unattainable because Washington rejects it. US warplanes continue attacking Syrian infrastructure and government sites on the phony pretext of combating ISIS.

Growing numbers of US and allied combat troops operate in northern Syria, aiding terrorists wage war on government forces while claiming otherwise.

Russia’s diplomatic efforts failed. Washington continues undermining them. It wants Syria transformed into another US vassal state.

The longer US policymakers obstruct peaceful conflict resolution, the greater the risk of direct confrontation with Russia.

Things seem headed in this direction. The possibility should scare everyone. Moscow calls combating terrorism its top priority in Syria.

Washington supports what Russia opposes. An inevitable clash of civilizations looms.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

May 18, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

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